Musings upon a homecoming…

I have almost infinite time to myself. I mean this completely. Don’t take offense, but largely when you see me I am engaging myself in some weird introspective investigation. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, there’s no method, there’s no catharsis. I’m fully convinced that it’s a waste of my time. But it’s only a waste of my time in that everything else is a waste of my time. And in recognizing this I transcend it. I realize that I live a fully irrelevant life, and that’s alright. It’s alright, the way that I live. To attempt to relate anything more is mere folly. I embrace my mediocrity. It is something that I feel is underrated.

I’m going to move through time enjoying myself and attempting to give enjoyment to others. I laugh, I talk, I cavort. I want you. I want you to be filled with joy. I have to evaporate feelings of grandeur in order to make it comfortable across the board. It doesn’t matter. I miss everyone I know no matter what their proximity. Everything is amazing, and everything is joyous, it is also bitter and painful, but those are the exceptionally real feelings of the world we’ve created.

I am basically taking the time to say something obvious in the hope that it is in some way made obvious to everyone after my saying. In the spirit of such, here is a picture of Ernest Hemingway. He had a lot to say…

Tsssssssss

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Holiday Gifts 2011: A Starter Guide

If you are one of those who waits until the last minute to pull together all of your holiday gifts, now may be a good time to start shopping for next year.

Since we’re good friends and all, I figure I’ll help you out by giving you a few ideas to get you started with the 2011 Holiday Gift Guide.

First, if you’ve ever knowThe weapon that isn't *really* a weaponn someone to who really wants to own a weapon, but isn’t really into guns, this first gift will be the thing for them. The S3 Spyder III Arctic laser is a powerful laser (the most powerful you can legally own in fact!) that can burn through plastic, balloons (mutually exclusive of course) and much, much more! So if you know someone who is looking to burn through something (or maybe protect herself from mean old spiders!) this will do the trick!

Soap for those you don't want to have to buy presents for next year.

This next gift you may want to reserve for those on your list that you don’t like quite as much, or who may have a really strange sense of humor. I’m not saying you’ll need to buy this, but you know, just in case. That’s right kids, soap with a razor blade in it. The website may say that it’s for decorative purposes only, but we all know they only had to write that for legal reasons…..*

It's nothing, *really*

For those on your list that you don’t really know what to get, or don’t particularly want to get them anything, or maybe they already have everything, I’ve found the solution for you! Nothing! I could say more, but I think the description says it best: “This lovingly crafted vial of emptiness is filled to the brim with unfettered nothingness.” !!

For those that just need a hug

And last but, definitely not least and my personal favorite, the Hug Me Pillow. Have a single friend who likes to cuddle but has no one to cuddle with? What about someone who isconstantly in long distance relationships? Or someone who’s husband sometimes wanders off to Abu Dhabi? This is the perfect gift for them. Not only does this pillow provide comfort while you sleep, it is proven 92.3% effective at making the owner feel less lonely. Don’t believe me? Simply read this raving review. This pillow is sold out for now, probably because it was a popular gift this year, even more of a reason to start shopping early.

There you have it, your starter guide for 2011 holiday gifts.

Happy Shopping!

*For legal reasons, I am publicly encouraging you to encourage the recipient of this gift to only use it as  decorative soap.
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LL Bean: A glowing recommendation!

LL Bean may just be one of the greatest stores ever.

So… instead of doing what I usually do with clothes, which is sometimes buying quantity over quality (although still striving for quality) ‘cuz I hate shopping for clothes more often than necessary… I resisted the “best” holiday sales and went with a proven retailer (although Macy’s sale items are worth browsing).  There was free shipping (a shipping cost is almost a deal breaker for me), but the prices were unchanged.  Regular prices, but still reasonable.

I have a cardigan/sweater that I always used to wear (see below).  Then, it became discolored due to being in the wash with a new pair of jeans (after 10+ washes those jeans STILL add a blue hue to any piece of clothing).  Well, guess what?  That zip up sweater came from LL Bean.  It has held up well.

I decided I needed something similar for work.  The beauty of the sweater is it’s appropriate for any setting, and since my collar shirts and slacks are all different sizes (and ages!) the zip up sweater can easily hide those ill-fitting subtleties while maintaining a professional appearance.  Plus, it’s winter.

SO, I decided it was time to replace that sweater.  In fact, I’ll go with a few color combinations.  Ordered, shipped, delivered.  Done.

This evening I decided to check the website once more for a crazy year-end deal and I discovered that the three sweaters I just bought had all dropped in price by more than $10 each.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “I wonder if they have some sort of price guarantee.”  I call the I-800 #.  Yep, sure enough, within 30 days LL Bean certainly does.  Over $30 is being credited back to my CC!

Then I discovered the 100% satisfaction guarantee:  http://www.llbean.com/customerService/aboutLLBean/guarantee.html

Should I return the first sweater now?  That is, 2+ years later?  Why not?

In closing, I strongly endorse LL Bean for its quality, reasonable prices, and stellar customer service.

(LL Bean may have a well established reputation in the Northeast, but its closest store is 2,000 miles from Seattle.)

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Every now and then I get a little bit glorious!

So the night before a long-haul flight is always kind of restless. At least it is for me. This time in particular I had not only adhered to my typical strategy of doing everything the night before, but also several unexpected events occured which required my attention.

Multitudes of laundry, an insufficient meal and various chores later I’m sitting in my apartment, tired but not ready for sleep. Let’s take a walk why not?

A quick jaunt down to Broadway and up to John, I decided to cut back home through Cal Anderson… what should I find but a veritable choir of 10 or so local folks giving the most spirited rendition of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. A brief meander and an ancillary joining in the sheer transcendent nature of the event was just what the doctor ordered.

I don’t know if this is a regular midnight occurence or merely lunar related, but it sure stirred my heart. The moon was AWOL for me by this point, but it had also cheered me deeply earlier… so it is well.

“Once upon a time I was falling in love, but now I’m only falling apart…there’s nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the [moon]”

For this, I expressly have time folks. Catch you on the flipside.

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Feeling Minnesota

This is the view outside my front door and all it makes me to want to do is eat and sleep.  This guy knows what I’m talking about.

 

 

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Of Sasquatch and Sawblades: an Art Critique

This is not actually an art critique, i’m afraid (go ahead, sigh in relief).  Merely some observations of the garish world of saw blade painting.  Why, you may ask, have i taken an interest in saw blade painting?  Well i would still be blissfully ignorant if it weren’t for our dear friend Emily Birchman, who approached me with a project proposal for a Christmas gift for her brother Kevin.  You may be aware that she and Kevin have an oddly amusing affinity for the creature known in the PNW as Sasquatch.  Several years ago Emily knitted Kevin a hat with an image of Sasquatch on it and this year Emily wants to give Kevin a painted saw blade featuring Sasquatch.  i, of course, thought this was a great idea and eagerly got on board.

I did my research before starting out and was amazed by what i found.  Before i show you the finished product, i would like to take you on a guided tour of some of the finest painted saw blades that the gallery of the internet has to offer.

This is your typical, run of the mill painted saw blade.  Most paintings are of some kind of pastoral or wilderness scene.  There were quite a few saw blades with hunting themed paintings as well.  This demonstrates the occurence of muddy paint in rather vomitous colors common in many saw blade paintings.

Here is an example of a lovely painted scene on a saw blade.  Still not my style, but i’m sure there are those out there who would cherish it.  Silly question, but if you are going to spend so much time on a painting like this, why would you choose to put it on a saw blade?

On to the questionable subject category:

Ah yes, the much sought after outhouse clock saw blade.

 

A dragon is an obvious choice to me.

We’ve seen the good, the bad and now we see the ugly:

What lovely, inviting table decorations!

I love that the deer head is springing out of from the ground and has an oddly bear like growth coming off of it’s neck.

Now the piece de resistance!

Please don’t get the idea that this epitomizes my work, except in so much as i try to emulate the spirit of my inspiration as much as possible.  I’ve never painted anything round before and it was difficult keeping track of the horizon.  It kind of looks like everything is going to slide off the saw blade to the left.  Emily, i hope you’re satisfied.  I, myself get a good chuckle whenever i look at it.  I encourage all of you to do your own research into the art of saw blade painting.  There is so much out there yet to be discovered!

 

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…For Nesters, Forever Ago.

It’s Sunday night and I think of you, members of The Nest, when I hear these songs.

Weezer – The Good Life – During my early days in Seattle, since I didn’t have a job or any particular goals, I tried to teach myself guitar.   This was a good 10 years after my classmates had learned guitar(“More Than Words” was very popular back then, around ’96) in South Dakota so it seemed fruitless to be trying at 26.  But I had so much time and once I started to get calluses, I thought maybe I could be a guy who was passed the guitar at parties.  Though I never became that good, I did learn a couple songs.  And I like to think that this song, along with that guitar, helped me become your friends.  So I thank my deficiencies as an artist and do not curse my unlearned hands.

Phil Collins – Another Day in Paradise – Of course this is the other song I learned.  It was always a joy to hear this requested when I was near the guitar during the early times on Garden St.  I don’t know how many of you actually wanted to hear it. But it did my heart good to hear you, Erik, Travis, Emily, Sara, Lindsey, Liz, even Kristina at times, singing along. It was certainly more than my clumsy plucking and off-tune singing deserved.

Cat Stevens – Moonshadow – When I hear this song, not only do I think about a very specific time(the kickball game in the park on Garden St) and the genesis of The Nest, but I also think of Mr. Moonshadow himself, Nick.  There is something magical about a person like Nick, streaming in, then back out of a group like ours.  Was there ever a time that we had a person who could play any Cat Stevens or Beatles song on request? Was there ever a guy who could actually defend Jimmy in a game of Frisbee?  Was there ever a guy who moved to Colorado and got married, then was gone?

Billy Joel – Moving Out(Anthony’s Song) – The screens that display the lyrics of karaoke songs at The Monkey Pub are not reliable.  We all know this now.

Clipse – Keys Open Doors – I remember inviting the Garden Street girls to come and watch Clipse with me at Chop Suey.  I even tried to be cute by claiming that Andrew Bird was opening and though no one believed me, it still seems like I was at the house on Garden Street the very same night that I went to the show.  I know that’s impossible, it’s just that that house is so connected to my first moments in Seattle.  And I’m glad. It was a good house.

Boyz II Men – Water Runs Dry – This song is placed along with Lindsey and Brian and Erik, in the times we went to the Beacon Pub and would met with Sean Sims, the UPS driver who serviced White Center, and Beruk Bayih who delivered in the Highland Park/Delridge area.  I always thought that was such a strange place for a bar, and I did learn later that both Beruk and Sean were at that very bar the night of this shooting.

Bon Iver – Flume – During the winter of 2008 we listened to this song and sipped on hot drinks and our young flesh, still elastic, needed no extra clothes in the basement of a house, heated by oil,  in Tangletown.   Our bodies made the room hot.  And rank as well, like the sweaty tinge of a room left unaired.   But it hardly mattered.  We listened to this song and played cards and let the warmth fill our pores.  I remember Doug’s dark beard and the white snow.  And I remember they way that Brian and Lindsey were. And I think I remember Emily and Jesse were first getting to know each other.  It was a good winter.

The songs of Andrew Bird – I don’t know any Andrew Bird Songs, but what kind of song list of  Nest affiliates would be complete without the guy?  The younger pups of the group may not know, but there was once a time when the girls who made up Garden Street house all had Andrew Bird lyrics on their Myspace accounts.  The mid 2000s were a different time.

The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio – This song marks the end of my time in Seattle and it also makes me think of Ben and Ian, two young men I was very glad to get to know, if only a little bit.  They both knew this album well it seemed and it represented their heady youth to me, knowing about things before the “old man” did.  I didn’t mind and I enjoyed both them and their enthusiasm for things that I once thought about as passionately.

Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike – Duchess Mrs. Sara Collins Peters of Wallingfordshire comes to mind when I hear this song.  She always seemed to enjoy it most of all when it came on and I always liked to hear her sing it, if softly.  And I also like to imagine young Phil and Dan and Erik and Brian as junior high boys in the greater Seattle area, with rolled up pants and cool haircuts hearing this and other cool grungy songs. What would be like to go back and meet those young boys, dirty behind the ears?

Cornerstate – Like You Never Left(the “Poker Face” song) – We learned not longer after putting this matte black disc with the cursive writing into the old reliable CD player by the sink that it was the perfect marriage of Jason Mraz and Coldplay.  It was Taco Tuesday when someone put it in and usually by the time I did everyone was just settling in, “somewhere more comfortable,” eating Safeway chocolate chip cookies, and drinking beer.   Then there would be Doug and Kristina just walking out the door, going off to nest in their own way.  Soon Liz would be in her chair, looking restful, dozing off to sleep.

Nelly – Dilemma(the “my boo” song) – There nights when we were playing karaoke on Phil’s American Idol game.  We, Erik, Travis, Lindsey, Liz, Brian, and even sometimes Sara and Doug and Kristina and even Forks Jeff, would alternate between Rock Band and singing karaoke on the Playstation.  My personal favorite nights were the ones(besides the nights we played strip Rock Band or karaoke) in which Phil would take on Brian in 90s R&B songs. This one was my favorite.

Vampire Weekend – One(Blake’s Got a New Face) – The image of playing euchre, eating the vegan donuts Emily brought home, sitting at the “big table” upstairs of the Tangletown house and listening to this song is burned in my brain.

The Songs of Gogol Bordello -If there is one band that reminds me of Doug and Kristina, it is Gogol Bordello. I know that for the rest of my life I will think of Copley and Struve when I hear this band. Even now, I can see Doug arranging his cards, readying himself for the next hand and bobbing his head and I can see Kristina playfully punching him on the shoulder, then squeezing him on the thigh.

The Hold Steady – Southtown Girls(at 3:40 of video) – How much did Kristina and Liz love this song? Very little, it turned out, but discussing The Hold Steady is the one of the very early memories I have of talking with the young ladies from Garden Street, which would eventually morph into what we know as “The Nest.”  I learned that both Liz and Kristina were Minnesotans and I assumed, since they looked like savvy, organic, hipster looking girls(in other words, my kind of ladies) I thought that they would know a thing or two about The Current and The Hold Steady.  It turned out they hated Hold Steady and in a way that was helpful. It was a nice disagreement between young people and a good thing to have to discuss, a needling force which would encourage more conversation.   So I am happy for “Southtown Girls.” I suppose I live in their neighborhood now.

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